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The Challenges with Setting Boundaries in the Workplace

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Man in business suit jumping hurdle used to depict setting boundaries in the workplace.

It’s time to take on the challenges of setting boundaries in the workplace.

Boundaries are a necessary part of creating a healthy work life balance, and generating higher levels of career satisfaction.

Unfortunately, for many, setting boundaries in the workplace presents a hurdle that might seem as challenging to clear - so challenging that you steer away from them.

Some of you may be thinking, "Oh, drawing lines? Piece of cake!" but let's pause for a moment. Have you ever found yourself answering work emails during family time or feeling guilty for not accepting another project even when your schedule is already bursting at the seams? If so, welcome to the 'Struggling with Boundaries Club'. You’re not alone, and there’s plenty of room.

We all understand the importance of boundaries, much like we understand the importance of regular exercise. But when it's time to hit the proverbial (or literal) treadmill, we might find a million excuses to postpone it. Similarly, creating and maintaining boundaries requires effort and a type of steadfastness, which can be daunting.

So, how can we overcome this challenge? Let's break it down.

1. Mindset. We often feel obligated to say “yes” when asked to take on something more. Even when we are running on empty. If this is you, shift how you think about boundaries.

Setting boundaries isn't selfish; it’s self-preservation; it's a form of self-care at work. You can't pour from an empty cup, and you certainly can't contribute to your team if you're running on empty. You need to secure your oxygen mask before assisting others.

2. Energy Management. Setting boundaries is about sustainability, and we’re all into that, right? Boundaries allow you to manage your energy and focus more effectively, allowing you actually to increase your productivity. So take on the extra project, but only when it is worthwhile for you to do so.

3. Clear Communication. Make sure your team understands your boundaries and why they’re necessary. It's not about dropping a steel wall between you and your colleagues; it's about explaining your limits so everyone can work together more harmoniously.

4. Flexibility: Boundaries aren't etched in stone. They’re like the yogis of the work world able to bend, breathe, and pause between intense stretches. Allow yourself to adapt to changing circumstances. You might have to occasionally stay late for a project or answer an urgent email off-hours. The key is: exceptions shouldn’t become the norm.

Think about work-life boundaries as a line between your work and your personal life. Your goal is to walk the line. The thicker and clearer the line, the easier it is to balance.

Drawing boundaries can be like walking a tightrope, where you're balancing between the demand for productivity and the need for personal well-being. But remember, it's a learned skill, and even if you wobble a little initially, you’ll eventually find your balance.

Be patient, be persistent, and give yourself the grace to make mistakes. Setting boundaries isn’t about attaining perfection; it's about striving for a healthier, more balanced, and enjoyably productive work life that enables more space for your life-life.

The next post in our boundary-setting series will be about managing and maintaining boundaries. We’ll address how we ensure our boundaries remain respected and effective over time.

If you’d like to learn more about our programs for thriving at work and in life, sign up for a free, no-obligation consultation.



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